Boosting your sales department in any industry can be difficult. Add in a partner sales channel on top of those pre-existing sales hurdles, and you’ve got an even more difficult situation on your hands.
Like all problems, this too can be overcome by breaking down the individual steps to success.
Step 1: Determine your strategy.
The more you (and your partners) know, the more you’ll sell (This is true for all sales, but especially SaaS channel sales, where complexities run rampant with software).
Clearly outlining your channel sales strategy can help determine your SaaS sales success.
First off, it’s important to determine whether your partners will be selling with you or for you (through partner or with partner?). If it’s the former, partners will sell your SaaS products as an upsell or missing value proposition to their pre-existing customers as well as use your solution as a “foot in the door” to gain new market penetration; if it’s the latter, your partners will be acting as the promoters or resellers of your solutions.
How you determine your channel sales strategy will depend on your company’s current situation. How complex is your SaaS? What is your vertical and market penetration? Where are you currently selling? How complex is the implementation? What services are needed post-sale to get the most out of your solution? By answering the above questions, you can work backwards towards determining which model or models best fit where you are today.
Step 2: Identify partners and grade them.
There are numerous factors that outline a partnership’s relevance and profitability. Some are easier than others to determine when starting a relationship, while others need to be observed over time. Being able to find effective partners will boost your revenue streams and impact your bottom line with greater speed and scalability than going direct alone can accomplish.
It’s best to know what market reach you need, and whether national or local partners make more sense. Additionally, you should be able to determine how a partner best complements your SaaS solution.
Before you even begin recruiting partners, score potential partners based around how well they cater to your current needs today, as well as how they fit into your growth plans.
Step 3: Outline an onboarding process.
One of the biggest benefits of SaaS is the ease of onboarding and procurement of the solution for new partners. However, even with these favorable benefits, some companies manage to screw up royally. How so?
They neglect the importance of partner sales acceleration techniques. Automated, intuitive technology can improve your SaaS sales efficacy with increased organization and engagement. The best platforms incorporate training, certifications, quizzes, and tracking methods into an easy-to-use, centralized location. Having your partners jump from one location to the next, creates friction that can lead to disenchantment and withdrawal from your partner program all-together.
Remember, your partners are selling with other companies. The more you pay attention to the steps of the onboarding processes, the more they’ll want to sell with you, and the more they will feel that you want to sell with them too!
Step 4: Emphasize communication and collaboration.
No, when I say communication I don’t mean emailing back and forth with the “hurry up and wait” mentality. I am talking about truly open and collaborative communication where you build trust and transparency with your partners. When you and your channel aren’t synchronized, obstacles to success can multiply to the point of no return. No matter where your partners are located, sometimes, collaboration can feel impossible. Conflict between channel and direct reps arises. Even worse, inadequate communication results in inefficiency, scattered sales and lost sales opportunities.
Partner sales acceleration platforms can help encourage transparency and true channel collaboration. By organizing leads and deals, channel sales software can provide you and your partners with an overview of their progress, as well as give them what they need to progress to the next level or tier. Plus, streamlined in-channel communication results in increased accountability.
The more you empower your partners, the more they will want to sell with you.
Step 5: Prepare for the future.
No matter what you’re selling, innovation is the lifeblood of any SaaS company. Being able to ramp-up new partners quickly and efficiently is one thing. Being able to onboard and activate them on new product and feature introductions is another.
Partner sales acceleration platforms provide product managers and marketing teams with an easily accessible dashboard that ensures your partners are up-to-speed. Additionally, these platforms provide invaluable insight to SaaS companies in the form of big data that can lead to an increase in effectiveness through better insights.
Discover what’s working and what’s not—and predict future trends to dictate the future of your organization.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.